Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo was already making a name for herself at a young age with her spoken and written work. After a kickstart on the slam circuit her work began to appear in magazines and anthologies, including The Break Beat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015) and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism (2018). Her debut collection The January Children was particularly highly regarded, “a deeply personal collection of poems that describe the experience of navigating the postcolonial world as a stranger in one’s own land” (Kwame Dawes, Goodreads). This personal search for Arabicness and Africanness and exploration of the tensions caused by this linked identity in these two worlds won her the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and the Arab American Book Award. With searing clarity, Elhillo conveys a state of displacement and longing; no longer prepared to acknowledge any predefined boundaries, she navigates a newly-formed world in a post-colonial narrative that is terrifying, tender and challenging in equal measure. In 2018 Elhillo appeared in Forbes Africa’s ‘30 Under 30’ list.
Elhillo's latest books include the poetry collection Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House, 2022) and the novel in verse Home Is Not a Country (Make Me A World/Random House, 2021), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and received a Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor.
Visit YouTube to watch and listen to Safia introduce herself.